House Speaker John Boehner wants to put an end to the decades-old ban on oil exports.
At a Capitol Hill press conference on Wednesday, Boehner threw his support behind efforts to lift the ban on American crude oil, marking the first time that the House speaker has taken a stand on the hot-button issue.
"There's another important energy issue that would provide a big boost to our economy, and that is lifting the ban on exporting crude oil," Boehner said.
"Lifting the ban would create an estimated 1 million jobs here at home, jobs that frankly would be created in every state. It would help bring down prices at the pump for consumers, and it would be good for our allies. If the administration wants to lift the ban for Iran, certainly the United States should not be the only country left in the world with such a ban in place."
"I would support lifting the ban, and hopefully we can work together on a bipartisan fashion to move our energy policies into this century," he added.
The ban was put in place in the wake of the 1970s Arab oil embargo, which drove up prices at the pump and ignited fears that America could run out of oil.
But U.S. oil output has surged in recent years largely as a result of the fracking boom — leading the oil industry and its allies to call for an end to the ban.
The industry says the ban is outdated and ending it would create jobs, spur the economy, and maybe even lower gas prices.
Some refiners, however, oppose ending the ban, and some lawmakers remain concerned that gas prices could go up if the ban were to be lifted, despite the fact that a slate of recent studies show that gas prices would likely go down if more American oil were to be unleashed onto the world market.
Republicans have so far led the charge to lift the ban. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, the chairwoman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, has pushed hard to convince fellow lawmakers that the policy is outdated and needs to end.
In the House, lawmakers such as Rep. Joe Barton have been outspoken supporters of lifting the ban.
Earlier in the week, the GOP whip team canvassed members on the issue, surprising even some party whips who thought the issue was a no-brainer. The issue found support in the conference.
But Monday marks the first time that Speaker Boehner has weighed in, signaling momentum for the issue in the lower chamber.
Environmentalists adamantly oppose lifting the ban, and Democratic lawmakers such as Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey warn that lifting the ban could drive up the cost of gasoline.
Daniel Newhauser contributed to this article
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.